Bunhill: Late night telling

THE CO-OP BANK has been getting very excited about the launch this week of its first unmanned bank branch in Manchester. The kiosks, which cost around pounds 1m each, are octagonal glass-fronted huts with cashpoint and paying-in machines. The most exciting techno-feature is the video- phone that links the customer with the nearest human teller 25 miles away.

The Co-op, which is looking for 20 other sites including Canary Wharf and Wapping in London, has not stinted on the security. Fronted by concrete posts sunk deep into the ground to ward off ram-raiders, the space-age kiosk is equipped with alarms and video cameras to catch people in the unspeakable act.

But there may be one area they have not thought of: the bank admits there is a danger some customers might try to chat up glamorous tellers via the video link after a particularly unsuccessful night out on the razzle. 'The tellers haven't had any specific training on lonely hearts calls, but they are given sessions on dealing with nuisance calls, so they will be prepared,' says a spokesman.

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